The Kama Sutra: 2,000 Years and Still Going Strong

The Kama Sutra: 2,000 Years and Still Going Strong

 

The Kama Sutra was written in ancient Sanskrit in India, dated to 400 BCE–200 CE and attributed to an Indian philosopher, Vatsyayana. In Sanskrit, sutra literally means “thread” but also refers to a “text.” Kama variously means “desire, pleasure, love, or sex” and is the name of the god of erotic love.

The Kama Sutra is one of the world’s oldest written documents. Elements of it have been traced to the early part of the first century C.E., a time when written language was just beginning to record the information that passed from one generation to the next in the form of stories and verse. When people were born, lived, and died within the same small community, oral storytelling was a fine way to convey history and lessons on life. But as soci-eties evolved and became more sophisticated, their codes of behavior became more complex. It be-came difficult for the average person to remember all the rules and procedures.

The Kama Sutra is one of the first known attempts to record such instructions. The original document was written in the ancient language of Sanskrit.

Scholars believe the original intent of this document was to provide a summary, sort of an ancient “cheat sheet” to jog the memory. The brevity of the Kama Sutra’s messages made it easy to memorize them. Community elders and religious leaders then taught the full meanings and interpretations.

While best known for its detailed instructions in the art of making love, the Kama Sutra was first and foremost a guidebook for moral behavior.

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